William Eichler 25 January 2024

Councils raise alarm over free childcare offer

Councils raise alarm over free childcare offer  image
Image: Oksana Kuzmina / Shutterstock.com.

Ahead of the roll-out of the expansion to free early education entitlements, local authorities across England have warned there may not be enough childcare places to meet demand.

From April eligible parents of two-year-olds will be offered 15 free hours per week of free childcare. In September, this will be available for children from nine months until the start school.

From September 2025, eligible parents will get 30 free hours from nine months until the start of school.

New research from the campaign group Coram has found that 60% of councils are ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ that there will be enough places to meet demand for the April 2024 expansion.

However, just 27% of local authorities say the same about the expansion from September 2024 and this falls to just 12% for the September 2025 expansion.

The majority (88%) said the ongoing challenges to recruit and retain staff for the local childcare workforce was a ‘barrier’ to the delivery of more places.

Nearly two thirds (64%) identified ‘sufficiency of childcare places for children with SEND’ as a barrier to delivery and 55% cited ‘funding to support children with SEND’ as another potential issue.

If this article was of interest, then check out, 'Wraparound childcare: what do parents want?'

The new Centre for Young Lives image

The new Centre for Young Lives

Anne Longfield CBE, the chair of the Commission on Young Lives, discusses the launch of the Centre for Young Lives this month.
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